I sent a letter to the editor of the local paper today. I dunno if they'll print it, but I thought I'd offer it here.
Here's what I said:
"There was another letter in The Oregonian today from somebody lamenting the shooting of an armed suspect by Portland police, and wondering why the officer didn't just shoot the attacker in the arm or leg. (Or maybe just, you know, shoot the knife out of his hand, like they do on TV and in the movies.)
Shooting in a potentially life-or-death situation isn't done like it is in the movies for a good reason. The physical and psychological changes during an adrenaline storm tend to destroy precision muscle control. A miss at close range endangers the officers and anybody else who might be around. A man with a drawn knife, as shown in a common self-defense drill, can cover twenty-one feet before most officers can draw and fire their handguns.
Nationwide, police are taught to shoot for the center of mass, and to continue shooting until the threat stops. If he keeps coming, you keep shooting.
Bad guys were killing folks with knives for a long time before guns were invented, and a sharp blade works as well as it ever did to do that.
Getting your martial arts education from TV or movies is a bad and potentially fatal idea."